Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Uncut
    90
    The musicianship lifts Sad Songs... even further into the realm of the extraordinary. [Dec 2003, p.133]
  2. It’s the sound of forbidden affairs, illicit sex with strangers in bars, drunken confessions, of real life. And it feels fantastic.
  3. Filter
    84
    Acoustic guitars, violin, vibes and brush stroked drums all help maintain this steady mellow tone that's about as comforting as a warm bath after three sleepless days of jetlag. [#8, p.106]
  4. Each of the dozen laments on Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers balance catchy choruses, exquisite instrumental interludes, and the complex words of a man's grieving.
  5. The record floats a Leonard Cohen-Robert Smith vibe or two, but references fail this outfit.
  6. It’s like this: ‘Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers’ sounds like every record ever made, somewhere along the line.
  7. Alternative Press
    80
    Deftly balancing country, classical and cabaret, the National are darkly dramatic and deliciously doomed. [Oct 2003, p.124]
  8. Plunging into the desperate erotica of their Leonard Cohen-meets-Joy Division world, this Brooklyn quintet sounds both decadent and deprived when brooding about betrayal, lust, even their snappy new outerwear ("Fashion Coat").
  9. Q Magazine
    70
    This is a very minor-chord affair. [Feb 2004, p.104]
  10. What easily could have been a tired retread of rock snob classics instead makes use of the past to provide a recognizable framework in which to deal with the emotional rescue necessary after a damaged romantic relationship.
  11. To the extent that it falls prey to unnecessary pseudo-sophistication, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers comes off weak; to the extent that it maintains its own musical niche within the shattered-lover trope, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers makes the shopworn surprisingly compelling.
  12. It's hard to shake the feeling that the National is highly influenced by and studied in the bands it emulates, but the album is still worth a listen for fans of moody country-tinged lounge music.
  13. Under The Radar
    50
    The album is plagued by overcooked production, and these are the type of songs--confessional, despairing--that are best served rare. [#5, p.114]
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Apr 12, 2013
    8
    'Available' and 'Sugar Wife' are two of the best songs of the year. The best National album along with Boxer.
  2. Mar 29, 2012
    8
    The album before their holy trinity of Alligator/Boxer/High Violet. Sad Songs is a good album but my least favourite of The National's 5The album before their holy trinity of Alligator/Boxer/High Violet. Sad Songs is a good album but my least favourite of The National's 5 records so far but its still very strong. Lyrically it's spot on but occasionally it lacks imagination musically. There are a couple of mid tempo countryish tracks that don't particularly add anything to the record. Although I love The National's slow and mid tempo stuff on other records, here the band sounds better on the more up tempo tracks. That said - these are small complaints and there is a lot more to praise on here than there is to pick at . Murder Me Rachel and Slipping Husband show some of the brilliance that followed on Alligator and the final track "Lucky You" really finishes the album off nicely. Full Review »
  3. JonnyR.
    Jul 13, 2008
    8
    'Sugar Wife' and 'Patterns Of Fairytales' are manifest fillers and disrupt the fluidity of the album. "Sad Songs For 'Sugar Wife' and 'Patterns Of Fairytales' are manifest fillers and disrupt the fluidity of the album. "Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers" is one of the best albums of 2003 Full Review »